There are many domains research about romanticism. Whereas, the research about British positive romanticism is little. The positive romanticism has its remarkable characteristics in the various countries. The English positive romanticism pushed the romanticism literature to the high tide. Shelley”s Ode to the West Wind is one of the best works of positive romanticism of Britain. This thesis mainly analyzes the background of Ode to the West Wind, and the features of positive romanticism. This thesis appreciates Ode to the West Wind in various ways by analyzing the subjectivism, the political lyricism, idealism. This thesis also illustrates the features of human being admiration for nature. Both the style of this poem and the writing ways of the poem express the British positive romanticism characteristics vividly.
Ode to the West Wind; British; positive romanticism
西风颂; 英国; 积极浪漫主义;
The romanticism is often regarded as an important branch of literature. It completely manifested the social characteristic of British at that fixed period, and expressed the society's request through literature. Therefore, the close relation between literature and society was fully displayed.
The romanticism developed extremely fast in British. The essence of romanticism reflected present situation and the needs of society. Moreover, positive romanticism in Britain has manifested the different of positive romanticism characteristic. Therefore, the positive romanticism also reflected the culture of British in 19th century.
Poetry is an effective way to express positive romanticism. In order to better understand the positive romanticism, it is necessary to realize the superficial meaning and the deep meaning that the poetry express. Ode to the West Wind as one of the famous work of the English positive romanticism at that fixed period, it manifest the English positive romanticism in various kinds of ways. It can be found that Ode to the West Wind is concluded with triumphant and hopeful mind. This poem has a deep influence on his generation and almost changed the value of his people.
I. The Definition of Romanticism and Positive Romanticism
At the early 19th century, pan-European movement took place in art and philosophy. The term derives from the Romances of the Middle Ages, and it refers to the idealization of reality. In the late 18th century, it began to mean anti-Classicalism and it also represented a trend towards the picturesque and the Gothic, nostalgia, mystery and dramatic love .e.g. Walpole, Beckford and Fuseli. By the early 19th century, it had been broadened in many aspects, such as enthusiasm, the rediscovery of the artist as a supremely individual creator, the development of nationalistic pride, and the exaltation of the senses and emotions over reason and intellect. In addition, romanticism is a philosophical revolt against rationalism and intellect. This breadth of meaning has led to the definition of Romanticism as a 'feeling' and very little else.
In Britain, the term refers to his literary and artistic movement of the late 18th and early 19th century. Romanticism rejected the earlier philosophy of the Enlightenment, which stressed that logic and reason were the best response human had in the face of cruelty, stupidity, superstition, and barbarism. Instead, the romantics asserted that reliance upon emotion and natural passions provided romantic movement typically asserts the unique nature of the individual, the privileged status of imagination and fancy, the value of spontaneity over “artifice” and “convention,” the human need for emotional outlets, the rejection of civilized corruption, and a desire to return to natural primitivism and escape the spiritual destruction of urban life. Their writings are often set in rural or Gothic settings and they show an obsessive concern with “innocent” characters-children, young lovers, and animals. The major romantic poets included William Blake, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Gordon Byron.
Artistic and intellectual movement that originated in the late 18th century and stressed strong emotion, imagination, freedom from classical correctness in art forms, and rebellion against social conventions. Romanticism, attitude or intellectual orientation that characterized many works of literature, painting, music, architecture, criticism, and historiography in Western civilization over a period from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Romanticism can be regard as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism in particular. To some extent, it is also reaction against the Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism in general. Romanticism emphasizes the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and so on.
Compared with passive romanticism, positive romanticism strengthens the will of men, and arouses the rebellion against reality and any else. Positive romanticism is that celebrated the power of individual self to create a world or to raise its particular conditions.
II. The Background of Romanticism and Positive Romanticism
Romanticism was one of the trends of literary and artistic thought, produces with the 18th century, at the beginning of 19 centuries Europe bourgeois revolution time.
In 18th century France's Enlightenment idealism advocated freedom of thought, emancipation of man's individual character and returning to the nature, and requested breaking royal power. In 19th century romanticism movements was started in European.
In the 19th century Europe various countries labor movement and the revolutionary movements are blustery. The working class in England strived for their own rights to subsistence, the same bourgeoisie launches the heroic struggle, took of a literature performance real life important methods, it with the time revolution mood associated production revolution literature, the revolutionary literature and the romanticism union has formed the positive romanticism. Byron and Shelley are representatives for British positive romanticism.
III.The Background of Shelley and Ode to the West Wind
A. The Background of Shelley
Shelley went to Oxford full of plans and ideas for changing the system of society. Being convinced that religious faiths were harmful to man”s happiness, he and his friend T.J.HoggH put forth a small study in logic, called the Necessity of Altheism, which was objected by the Oxford authorities , however, shelly and Hogg declined to discuss the matter. As a result they were sent off. It was a disaster for a boy at 18, for he lost a valuable education at Oxford. He fell out with his father and became a wan-darer. Though he would eventually inherit a fortune, he had no ready money. When he was 19, he eloped with Harriet Westbrook, a girl of 16 whom he scarcely knew. From Then on, shelly, always full of schemes, went on a quixotic expedition to redress the wrongs of the Irish; from Lyn mouth shortly afterwards he distributed a seditious pamphlet called the rights of man, scattering some copies by balloon and putting others into bottles and throwing them into the sea. In 1813 he printed and published extraordinary poem, Queen Mab privately which expressed his belief in a new golden age.
In his glorification of revolutionary ideas, Shelley had sought out William Godwin, author of political justice, who had married Mary Wollstonecraft, author of The Rights of Women. His marriage with Harriet proved a complete failure; Shelly eloped with Godwin”s 15-year-old daughter Mary. But that year Harriet was found drowned in the serpentine and her two children by shelly became the subject of a lawsuit. For Shelley, he was not only deeply shocked by the tragedy but also suffered the bitterness of losing his children. However, the life had to go on. To get rid of solitude, he married Mary Godwin later at Marlow, on the Thames. There, in 1816, he wrote Ablator, or the Spirit of Solitude, the first long poem to show his true genius. Next year he wrote a long imaginative poem on liberty and love, the Revolt of Islam, which contained many fine passages of description and narrative and was inspired by the French Revolution.
At that time, Shelly had become a friend of Leigh Hunt and Peacock and had met Keats. Finally in 1818, to escape prejudice and insult, and also Godwin”s constant demands for money, Shelley decided to seek peace in Italy. There shelly gave up his dream of reforming the world by the means of direct political action and decided to pass on his inspiration to others through his poetry. In this belief he composed his Prometheus Unbound, enjoyed for its incomparable music, its color and story, as well as because it contained Shelly”s noblest ideas. To this period, too, he wrote his Lines in the Eugenia Hills and Julian and Maddalo, an autobiographical poem based on a happy visit to Byron in VeniceH. Meanwhile Shelly wrote his finest lyric, such as the Cloud, the Skylark, the Ode to the West Wind and so on. The music and intensity showed that Shelly was entering on a new stage of personal and imaginative greatness.
B. The Background of Ode to the West Wind
The poem was composed in 1819 when European labor movement and the revolutionary movement surged. To fight for their right, British working class began to struggle with the bourgeoisie. At August of that year, 80,000 workers in Manchester held a massive demonstration. Of course, the reactionary authorities had dispatched troops to suppress. That was well-known as the Bideilei Massacre. For Shelley was in favor of British revolution, he was expelled from the United Kingdom. Then he came to Italy, he met Keats, had made great influence to Shelley a lot on revolutionary cause. Form the above; we can see that in Britain there was no freedom.
Ode to the West Wind is the most representative of Shelley”s feelings and thoughts at that time. It is a mixture of death and rebirth. Shelley is concerned with the regeneration of himself spiritually and poetically and of Europe politically. In the first three stanzas, the dynamic force of the west wind is manifested in its power on the land, in the air, and in the sea in different seasons. It is the destroyer and preserver. It will destroy the old world and herald in a new one. In the fourth stanza Shelley wishes that he were a leaf, a cloud, and a wave, so that he could feel the power of the west wind; but he is aware of his age and his sufferings in life, which have bent him down. Finally, he appeals to the wind, the wind of aspiration and change, to reinvigorate him and to give force and persuasiveness to his poetry.
IV. The Features of Positive Romanticism in Ode to the West Wind
The romanticism has two big branches which are the negative romanticism and the positive romanticism. To a certain extent the positive romanticism has its positive characteristic as the name suggests.
The positive romanticism mostly manifests in the positive romanticism poet dares to face the reality, critique society's darkness, is spearheaded at the feudal aristocracy, opposed in the capitalist society survives the feudal factor, simultaneously all sorts of evil phenomenon which creates to bourgeoisie itself also has the exposition, thus the fill revolt, the fight fervor, will send ideally in the future, will yearn for the new happy life. In this poem, Shelley wants to create a new free country. He talks of the “Mediterranean” and the “summer dream”. In the dream, the reader finds the sea lying “Beside a pumice isle in baize”s bay quivering within the waves” in tenser day”. Shelley implants the ideas of volcano with the word “pumice.” The “old palaces and tower” stir vivid image of ancient Rome and Greece in readers mind. Shelley also uses these images in the sea”s dream to show that the natural world and the human social and political world are parallel.
In the poem the west wind is not merely the wind of the nature, the subject which is the counter-capitalism counter-old influence, instead of regarding poetry as “a minor to nature” the source of which is in the outer world, romantic poets describe poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful felling” which express the poets mind.
In Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley tries to gain transcendence, for he shows his thoughts, like the "winged seeds" trapped. The west wind acts as a driving force for change and rejuvenation in the human and natural world. Shelley views winter not just as last phase of vegetation but as the last phase of life in the individual, the imagination, civilization and religion. Shelley looks forward to freedom. From this “winged seeds” it presents image of flying and freedom. The important word is “seeds” for it which shows that even in death, new life will grow out of “grave” the phrase “winged seeds” also brings images of religions, angels or souls which can create new life continuously.
Heavenly images are confirmed by his use of the word “azure” which is also defined besides the meaning of blue sky, In Webster”s dictionary, as an “unclouded vault of the heaven”, the word “azure” is connected with the word “spring”, and it helps show Shelley”s view of rejuvenation. In addition, the word “spring” also means to rise up except being a literary metaphor for rebirth. In line nine, Shelley uses soft sounding phrases to communicate the blowing of the wind, this tierce cuts as an introduction and foreshadow of what is to come later. Shelley goes on to talk of the wind as a “destroyer and preserver”. The wind is also a person that to create freedom. Form this we can see that “wind” is a power which can destroy the old day and create new life. Therefore, Ode to the West Wind is a song of revolution at that time.
C. Idealism and Imagination
Just like Gorky pointed out “the romanticism is one mood, it complex moreover throughout how many fuzzily reflected actually is covering transition time society's all feelings and the mood color, but, its main key is to new thing anticipation”. The romanticism refers to the appearance according to the people, through the life phenomenon idealization description, and them displays certain social psychology and the emotion creation method. The romanticism ideal displays in the character image mold are the romanticism which is based on the basis of the idealized principle, through the unreal plot, in a special environment, exerts oneself in the description ideal the character image. These characters often have the unusual super human's moral character, ability and the behavior. The positive also inherit this feature.In this poem we can see that Shelley wants to establish a new free society. “drive my dead thoughts over the incantation of this verse; like wither，d leaves to quicken a new birth”, and “if winter comes, can spring be far behind”. It is obvious that Shelley is looking forward to new thoughts and new society.
On behalf of the positive of romantic, Shelly can”t see the future of socialism, but he also can't escape the circle of ideal socialism. It makes another feature of positive of romantic idealism. Does the poet describe what they will create in this poem?
D. Political Tendentiousness
Judging from the background of the positive romanticism, the positive romanticism must have certain characteristic belonged to that era. Political tendentiousness is the positive romanticism to that time reflection and the portrayal.
From Ode to the West Wind we can feel the intense of political tendentiousness, the west wind is “destroyer and preserver”, the west wind Cleans these which “yellow, and black and pale, and hectic red” Heartless. The west wind “thou on whose stream , mid the steep shy，s commotion”. The west wind is not the nature wind. It is the revolution wind, the wind against bourgeoisie, and against the power of Feudal.
E. Emotion and Nature
The romanticism poet's poetry mostly originates from the nature. Nature for the romanticists comes to the forefront of the poetic imagination. Nature is not only the major source of poetic imagery, but provides the dominant subject matter. Wordsworth conceives of nature as “the nurse, the guide and guardian of my heart and soul.” Nature to the romanticists is a source of cleanliness and spiritual understanding; it is a teacher; it is the stepping-stone between man and god, so romantic poets mostly take describing the nature to eulogize the nature as the subject. The positive romanticism poet has not discarded this characteristic.
According to Shelley said “the idea of writing this first poem is basically. In Florence Arnoux river bank woods, same day the temperature is genial, fresh, but this storm is gathering the moisture, under the incline the autumn rain”. From this the poet has felt the wild westerly wind, and life of the fall breath. Then the poet wrote westerly wind only because of this real, and the magnificent sight.
From the poem it is can be seen that Shelley was eulogy the west wind, but he was not just a singers, he Represents taking the westerly wind as the topic, taking the subject in the nature, and this is full of the fervor the poetic composition, selects a scene in this is naturally the romanticism universal characteristic also is the positive romanticism characteristic, does obeisance? Wordsworth sends the poet in a big way for representative's lakeside always describes the nature .in this poem Shelley described the change of the fall. The poet creates originating from the Italian Florence's suburb. Is precisely because the poet is good at observing the nature, only then had this classical poetry.
The romanticism writers all advocate the nature. Is naturally they express the feelings the nature carry. The romanticism work is often expressed the feelings, and author”s emotion pouring out swiftly with reveals. The positive romanticism is more radical, therefore the sentiment expresses intensely. Shelley has also displayed this characteristic in Ode to the West Wind. This poem starts from the eulogy westerly wind, in fourth Stanza “if I were a dead level thou mightiest bear; if I were a swift cloud to fly with thee” The poet compares oneself to others by the westerly wind. The poet expressed the poet the deep love and yearned for the nature through the westerly wind. He used the westerly wind to urge on oneself, expressed the free pursuit, with the hope to establish happy world.
F. Syncretism with Other Art
Form this poem, it can be found that very strange rhyme, because Shelley use the tetrza rima. It is a three line unit a tercet .rhyming a b a, the “b” rhyme is carried into next tercet ,b c b ,each stanzas has four tercets of interlocking rhyme and ends in a couplet using the middle rhyme of the last tercet. Thus the rhyme schemes are a b a, c d c, d e d and go on. It makes the rhyme very cheerful, and it also enables the poem and has the very strong rhythm, and highlight the musicality. It is just the same as Dante's Divine Comedy.
From this poem, it also can be found that the beauty of music from the west wind, “make thy lyre, even as the forest is”. The Aeolian harp gives musical sounds as the wind blows through it. Here the forest is compared to the Aeolian harp lyre, and the poet prays that he also maybe the Aeolian harp so that he could feel the power of the west wind. It makes the sound of west wind more vivid and makes the poem more musical.
G. The Writing Style
The writing style of the poem efficiently reflects the features of positive romanticism.
a. The Free Writing Style
There are differences between writing techniques of romanticism and literature before it. In style, the romantic poets are prefer to boldness over the preceding age”s desire for restraint, maximum suggestiveness over the neoclassical ideal of clarity, free experimentation over the “rules” of composition, genre, and decorum, and they promoted the conception of the artist as “inspired” creator over that classicism literature which sticks to old ways equally, constrains the individuality, and it isn”t like the realism literature same language to encourage sharply, but is pursues the individuality liberation creation absolutely free, the poetry aspect is not tracking down traditional the form. Displays in the romanticism literature creation many and varied creation style.
First, romanticism is good at using the technique of exaggerating symbol. It also likes utilizing the magnificent literary flourishes, in the work fills the vivid rich analogy, causes beautiful and ugly, friendly and forms the sharp contrast and the striking comparison wickedly. The positive romanticism has completely inherited these characteristics of romanticism, and the language even more encourages.
In 19th, many poets like writing poem. Poem is the best choice for many positive romantic poets. For example，the most famous work of Byron is Don Juan, the most famous poem of Keats is Ode to a Nightingale. Because poem can express their feelings and it is one kind of art language, the poem is one kind of art which is to the soul and to the exploration. The poem can express the inner soul. It can make the distance between the human and the poetry closer. It also can form the sympathetic chord, and reach the effect of beautiful enjoyment. The poem is one kind of creativity. It does not stop using the language to create inner world. As the energetic movement, it is the way to liberate inner feelings, so it indicates another world. The poem is supposed to be revolutionary and timeliness. Sometimes it is mind record, which is based on the background of time. The poem is in the form of rhythmic, so the artistic effect is very obvious. All of these are expressed by the positive poets.
b. The Feature of the Poem”s Words
Romanticism is different from the realism and other literature, the words of romantic literature are very flowery, which is the as the positive romanticism. From this poem we also can get the feature. In this poem the feature of the language gorgeous mainly displays in the strong sentimental color and the bright demeanor. For example, when the poet writes the leaves, he uses the “Yellow, black, pale, hectic red”, and when he writes the wind there are many places using the word “hear”, which express that many time the poet wants to make the hearing and the vision unify to make the word more vivid.
The words of this poem” express intense Summons, for example, “Pestilence-stricken multitudes, with living hues and odors plain and hill, of the horizon to the zenith's height, like writher”s leaves to quicken a new birth. If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
H. Rhetoric Device
In this poem, Shelley used many hyperboles. Hyperbole in other words is exaggeration. It puts a picture into the readers mind. Hyperbole is frequently used in humorous writings. Hyperbole is common in humorous poetry, because it can make a point in a light-hearted way. It can be used to poke fun at someone or something. In this poem the hyperbole is used clearly; poet”s thoughts change very fast. Sometimes it maybe in the sky, but sometimes it is in the Mediterranean.
b. The Symbol Device
In the romantic poets view the symbol is aesthetic correlatives of nature”s emblematic language. There are great values because they could simultaneously suggest many tings, and they are regard as being superior to the one –to –one communications of allegory. Partly, it may have been the desire to express the “inexpressible” the infinite through the available resources of language that led to symbol at one level and myth (as symbolic narrative) at another. "Ode to the West Wind" used the symbol device, the entire first poem surrounds the autumn westerly wind to write an essay from the beginning to end, regardless of is describes the scenery or expresses feelings, all has not been separated from this specific description object, has not used political terminology and revolutionizes the slogan. However read after this short poem, we deep deeply feel actually, Shelley in sings the westerly wind, is incompletely sings the westerly wind, in the poet essence is through sings the westerly wind to sing to revolutionize. In poem westerly wind, remnant leaf, seed, class cloud, rainstorm thunder and lightning, sea mighty waves, seabed colored tree and so on, all is the symbolic things, they are containing the profound implication, the moving scenery which the nature wind and cloud surges, is the world vigorous development revolutionary struggle symbolic reflection.
The romanticism has two aspects. There are positive romanticism and the negative romanticism. Literature has regional characteristic, so positive romanticism in British has their own characteristic. The romanticism asserted that reliance upon emotion and love and passions for nature provided a valid and powerful means of knowing and a reliable guidance to ethics and living.
The Ode to the West Wind took the world literature, and it has manifested many characteristics of positive romanticism, but it didn”t completely manifest the positive romanticism characteristic. Subjectivism, idealism, deeply loves for nature all embodiment the characteristics of positive romanticism.
Shelley is one of the repressive of positive romanticism. To some extent, Shelley is famous for “Ode to the West wind”. This poem is filled with triumphant and hopeful emotion.
This thesis targets at analyzing the features of positive romanticism. There also exist some faults in this thesis. The author hopes other English learners make more research.
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